Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Bell Kellogg

Honored June, 2011

Leah Bell Kellogg

Leah Kellogg is a Santa Fe original! From community activism leading to a new jail and the Rape Crisis Center, to helping found two Jewish temples; from writing hundreds of letters to the editor, to swimming with the Synchronettes, and tap dancing with the Scarlet Ladies, Leah has led a rich and varied life.

Leah was born in Alberta, Canada. Her grandparents emigrated to Canada to escape the pogroms against the Jewish people in Russia. Leah graduated from the university in Saskatchewan with a degree in nutrition.

During World War II, she chose to join the U.S. Army. Leah was assigned to Bruns Army Hospital in New Mexico and was apprehensive at first. But when she arrived and saw the vast openness and the beautiful Sangre de Cristo mountains, she knew this was where she wanted to spend the rest of her life. She married Gerald Bell whose family owned Bell’s department store downtown. The couple raised three children.

She was a key member of the group that found the site and organized funding for Temple Beth Shalom, the first Jewish temple in Santa Fe. Leah was the first female president of the Temple, elected three times. Later, she was instrumental in founding the newer Temple Beit Tikva.

One of Leah’s most important involvements was as chairperson of the Santa Fe County Jail Advisory Board. After several years of planning, a new jail was built on Airport Road to replace the inadequate building on Washington Avenue.

Leah was instrumental in the formation of the Rape Crisis Center. She wrote its first grant and was the first president. An avid champion of opinion, Leah has written more than 300 letters to the editor of The New Mexican, commenting on local causes, political issues, and some amusing reflections.

Leah’s athletic endeavors have included the Synchronettes swimming group, the Scarlet Ladies tap dancers, and square dancing. After her first husband passed away, she married widower Arden Kellogg, a member of her square dancing group. Leah also played in an all-women’s softball league and achieved a Black Belt in her study of Tai Kwan Do.

Leah described her passion for causes and her community: “Something is within me. I have a feeling that I have a mission and I mustn’t fail. Besides, giving is getting, isn’t it?”

Story by Barbara Harrelson

Photo © 2011 by Genevieve Russell